Time: 131 mins.
Won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress (Hudson) and Sound Mixing. Nominations for Best Art Direction, Costume Design, Original Song and Best Supporting Actor (Murphy).
SYNOPSIS: The story of a young singing trio as they make their way from talent contests to superstardom. They begin their careers as a tight-knit family, but jealousy and ego quickly force them apart, bringing pain and heartache along with fame and fortune.
BOTTOM LINE: Having never seen the Broadway version, I had no preconceptions going into this experience. As a whole it more than met my expectations, especially since I love musicals. The story is an intrinsically interesting one, showcasing a time and a business most of us know very little about. Perfectly cast, director Condon gets performances from these singers that are unexpectedly good, even though the characters were already memorable. Everything in this production is first class from the sumptious costumes to the evocative art direction and fabulously exciting dance numbers. Jennifer Hudson breaks out with a performance that is truly unbelievable considering this is her first acting role. Those familiar with her from American Idol knew she had pipes, but nothing can prepare you for what you'll see here. The hype is not wrong.
Eddie Murphy was also a pleasant surprise, giving perhaps his deepest and most entertaining turn in years, if ever. What keeps me from giving it four stars is the lack of character depth and, at times, stodgy direction. I understand that the film takes place in the 60s and 70s, but there's just something a bit stiff and old-fashioned about the pacing and overall feel of the film, especially in the transitions between performance numbers. The story focuses too much on the business side and not enough on the relationships and the toll that fame or lack of it is taking.
Beyoncé: is stunningly beautiful, but it's not until the end of the film that her character is given her own voice and allowed to show her true self. "Listen" is so powerful she makes you almost forget Deena's utter lack of personality up to that point. This has nothing to do with her performance, but with the way the character is written. Condon may have held too tightly to the original material, not wanting to offend purists. However, this is not a revival but a movie and a few extra scenes here and there would have gone a long way, adding depth and emotion to a piece filled with mostly flash and fluff that while fabulous is not enough to make a great movie-going experience. At its' core, it's eye and ear candy done with great energy and sophistication. I'm not sure if lovers of the original show will like this version, but for those of you who enjoy musicals, this one won't dispappoint.